“Planners and demographers said Thursday it may be time for the Bay Area to bite the bullet and plan for density….San Francisco should see about 161,000 new residents by 2035…” (Population expected to swell by 2 million)

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Anonymous

    With all these people moving to SF, the new jobs, and shortage of housing, I would find it hard to believe that SF property is going to drop in value.

  2. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    two comments in one, first to the quote –
    Ya Think!??!
    and to Anon
    EVERYONE WANTS TO LIVE HERE!!!

  3. Posted by NonAnon

    But if they’re not building any more land, where the heck are all these people going to live?

  4. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    gee … where do they live in manhattan? oh that’s right high denisty housing!
    it’s called building up.
    and I will go back to the point I made on another post. it’s not like everyone just looked at a map one day in 2000 and finally figured out that SF was surrounded by water on three sides.
    The whole “they are not making any more land” and “everyone wants to live here” crap was already baked into the prices then.
    If I may cite a post on another website, you can find this listing on sf.curbed;
    One bedroom, one bath loft in a converted industrial building. Quiet bit of SoMa, part of the 200 Brannan complex. Marble gas fireplace. We love marble gas, and the owners must as well. Asking $754K, plus two years of HOA dues paid by seller, or about a 12K discount. They paid 465K in 2004.
    Yeah that’s right this loft is suddenly worth nearly 300k more in two years. Yes this loft that is two years older, two years worn, is suddenly worth 300k more. why? did incomes spike? is inflation running in the double digits? No
    this price increase is due to nothing more then speculation not economic fundementals.

  5. Posted by CameronRex

    This is going to come off as extremely negative but in response to badlydrawnbear and popular opinion…WHY does everyone want to live here?
    I followed a partner who moved for his career. I have made a lot of friends and I love the shopping and the restaurants. The location, visually, is stunning… BUT… As far as the city itself…this is a city with an inefficient and expensive transit system where oftentimes you are paying to stand for 30 minutes and arrive late to your destination. Homeless and/or mentally ill wander the streets. SF has one of the lowest urban tree covers in the country. The weather, while mild, generally is too cold and windy. Housing and gas prices are among the highest in the nation. Traffic is terrible. The streets are atrocious. Politics is even more dysfunctional than at the state level; and that is saying something. A budget of $5 billion according the Chronicle and what do we get? The city desperately needs housing but government goes out of its way to make it difficult. The city politics is overly influenced by renters who demand subsidised rent (the effect of rent control) driving up both rental rates and house values of newer residents and landlords…but then these same renters are SHOCKED when landlords don’t want to do much in the way of upkeep for their buildings or decide to sell and get out of the landlord business. They are equally shocked that house prices continue to rise.
    If you are in the fairly small group (30%?) of SF residents that can afford to buy in one of the new developments and can live ‘above it all’ I am sure the city is fabulous…just like NYC. Same goes for those that have an incredible flat at ridiculously low rent. For everyone else is it any wonder that SF is a city where people come for a few years to work or get their education and then leave as soon as they can?
    I am not disputing that there are a lot of people that want to live in San Francisco but I have yet to find anyone that can tell me why.
    Cheers and Happy Holidays to all!

  6. Posted by Mike Sullivan

    I believe it’s a bit simplistic to suggest population growth has a direct AND proportional relationship to housing prices. If that were the case, the double-digit appreciation rates over the last few years would have to be explained by a proportional increase in population growth (and thus, demand).
    A more complex analysis of housing values would consider interest rates, risky lending practices, and investor speculation.

  7. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    Cam – I know it doesn’t really come across in a post but I am actually making fun of the ‘everyone wants to live here’ mentality.
    and just wanted to point out my second post was in response to a comment that appears to have been removed. [Editor’s Note: Sorry, we have an itchy trigger finger this morning. It’s back.]

  8. Posted by Morgan

    I am curious as to what job growth would be predicted for the city of San Francisco itself? I believe the majority of population and job growth will be in the South Bay while “the city” will continue to drive away its middle class and instead concentrate on becoming a theme park with good restaurants. As CameronRex wrote above, I am sure that the nomadic rich may still continue to choose to have a home here, and there will be a group of service industry jobs that will serve this percentage of wealthy population and tourists, but does this create a real city, or only Santa Barbara with skyscrapers? (Or Venice Italy with poverty and a visible homeless population?)

  9. Posted by Michael

    Good question. Interesting to note that we’re still running about 100,000 fewer jobs in SF than we were in 2000:
    San Francisco
    Jan. 2000 1,078,600
    Oct. 2002 985,000
    Oct. 2004 942,300
    Oct. 2006 970,300

  10. Posted by Dude

    Morgan makes a great point. I think the south bay is expected to have most of the job/population growth, with San Jose surpassing 1 million residents before SF does. The theme park comment is interesting as well – I’ve heard people comment that San Francisco will one day become the Monaco of the US – a playground for the ultra-rich, with no industry besides tourism and services for said rich.

  11. Posted by S

    Actually, projected job growth for San Francisco is incredible. Over 250,000 new jobs by 2035.
    Cameron’s comments are accurate but seem to be a symptom of district elections. What we have created are monsters on the Board of Supervisors that cater only to their respective districts, and limit housing in their bubble to ensure their re-election. What makes it worse, is they ignore the betterment of the City as a whole, and yet it is impossible for the residents of the rest of the City to vote them out of said positions.
    There are cities in the Midwest and Rustbelt that would kill for the projected job growth and people that want to live here; but we push them away.
    The same issues are always on the table, but at least we “impeached” the President.

  12. Posted by amused

    Interesting reading.
    I’ve learned that SF is a terrible place to live, and that the long-sustained history of expensive real estate is entirely illusory.
    I’ll be listing my home for far below what I paid as soon as humanly possible. I’d like to make sure I get out before armageddon happens.
    To that point, there seem to be a lot of people here who know exactly what’s happening and when. If any of you could let me know precisely when our (previously desirable) city will become a ghost town, I’m forever in your debt.

  13. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    will it become a theme park? I would say it already has. When your median home cost 700k+ SF is a town for only the rich.
    I moved to SF in Aug 05 from Chicago. I managed to get a nice apt in a good part of town with a great view. My salary at the time was good for Chicago but was tough to live on in the Bay area. So I worked hard stood up to my boss and got a HUGE raise and a nice title promotion with it. Finally, I could ‘afford’ SF.
    But I keep asking myself “is it worth it?”. My new salary (which I would keep if I moved) would give me a much better ‘lifestyle’ in Chicago and I could easily afford a beautiful timber loft in Printers Row in the South Loop. In SF I would need an option ARM to get a studio in almost any part of the city.
    I like SF, there is definatley something special about it and I would also very much like to stay
    However, Chicago is also beautiful, great live music scene, amazing theatre, incredibly clean, full of trees and plants and environmentaly progressive, it has a diverse and tolerant population and political establishment, I could really go on and on.
    The draw back is the weather can really suck and man are those suburbanites and Lincoln Park Trixies (think Marina Chicks) annoying.
    but now I have been back in Chicago for 3 weeks for work and I keep asking myself that same question. As much as I like it in SF, is it worth the money?
    I keep telling myself I will wait until I get back to SF to decide, that I need to give SF more time and that it’s easy to come back to Chicago because I know the city and it’s like hanging out with an old friend.
    So is it worth the cover charge to hang out with my cool friend, SF, or should I rent a movie and split a pizza with my good buddy, Chicago?
    And if someone like me, a successful professional, earning above the median, city loving, arts loving, indie rock loving, gay man is will to say goodbye to SF and all it has to offer for no other reason then the cost of living …
    Well that can’t bode well for the city. Of course people will always come here to see if they can make it and find something they can’t find any where else, it’s what I did. But will they stay?

  14. Posted by Phil

    I’ve thought about that “why do people want to live here question” myself, and in some ways I agree with Cameron – San Francisco is really quite a provincial city, culturally speaking, the cost of living is as high as Manhatten but with much less to offer, the public transportation system is a mess, and you can never get a cab. On the other hand, I think what does attract people to SF are those mythical “San Francisco values” which, I’m afraid, are falling victim to economic forces. I think the general political polarization of the country has led progressives, gays, and other “liberals” to leave the middle of the country and come to places like San Francisco, Seattle, and New York (that’s what brought me here from Atlanta, and brought me back here from Virginia after leaving the .com bust). One only has to look at the red/blue maps from the last presidential election to see how the coasts have become the places to go, and thus the increasing populations. As one of my gay colleagues and I recently discussed, it’s hard to figure out where we could go from here that would offer us the same level of social acceptance and ease, but at a lower cost of living. Also, I work in the tech sector, and there are very few places where I would find as much demand for my work as a technical writer as I do in the Bay Area. I *could* move to San Jose or Mountain View, but I want an urban, high-density environment, not life in a tract development. Combine all those factors and that’s why I want to live in San Francisco, even if I do regard it as a bit of a sleepy burg. On the other hand, if the political climate changes (and it will), and other enclaves of progressivism develop where I can also find work, then you can bet I’ll go there if I can, since I see only a very limited set of economic opportunities for myself in this city.

  15. Posted by Christopher

    Wow, these post are both affirming and depressing. I moved to SF in 1989 and for many years felt it was the only place I could ever live. But as time has passed, and I have gotten older (yes, now I’m older than my dentist and the mayor), I question more frequently how long I will remain here. For me, the appealing aspects of SF living have narrowed, and the things that excite me about living here seem fewer and fewer. But then, I visit another city and realize that no place is perfect. Although I get very tired of the homeless situation and ridiculous city government, there’s something authentic about SF that I haven’t found in many cities, where the overall vibe feels more mass-produced.

  16. Posted by Dude

    What’s wrong with you guys? I’m on your side in saying cost of living is out of whack with fundamentals, but no need to attack the city itself.
    “Why do people want to live here?”
    1. Weather: while not great, is moderate year-round without sweltering heat or frigid winter.
    2. Very clean and green for a big city, regardless of what the “stats” say. I’ve lived in Manhattan, and SF is much cleaner and greener.
    3. Architecture: from ultra-modern in SOMA to the Victorians of Alamo Square – the city is beautiful.
    4. Great restaurants, bars, clubs, theater, opera, symphony, museums, etc. Tough to be bored in this city.
    5. Multi-cultural and open-minded.
    6. Geography – you can go to the beach or climb a mountain without ever leaving town.
    7. Proximity to other attractions. Within driving distance you have great beaches, wine country, Tahoe, etc.
    San Francisco has something for everyone. If you want a quiet life in a wooded suburb, you can have it. You want an urban lifestyle in a big high rise? We got that, too. Not to mention one of the larger economies in the US (for the bay area as a whole).
    I could ramble on, but you get the point. For those who need to rekindle their love affair with the city, I suggest going to live in Phoenix or Las Vegas for a few months, especially during the summer.

  17. Posted by Morgan

    The post regarding Chicago is very interesting in that Chicago still has authentic neighborhoods the remind me of San Francisco before the current real estate bubble. Andersonville is like Hayes Valley and the Haight before 1990, The Halstead is the Castro 1981, and Wicker Park is a cross between Noe Valley and the Mission. I travel to Chicago on business and always look forward to visiting that city and get a kick out of reading the real estate advertisements in the local papers. There was a unit in the Mies Van Der Rohe designed 910 North Lake Shore Drive (2bd , 2ba with parking) for $395,000 listed in October with views of the Lake and North along the waterfront). I brought this listing back to my office and posted it on message board and people were shocked what they could buy in that city.

  18. Posted by Anonymous

    People who love it hear are homeowners. Homeowners have also made a ton of money and are generally wealthier. Therefore, the prices don’t bother them at all.
    For it, it all came together when in went snowboarding in Sugarbowl after it dumped 1 foot of powder and the next day I played tennis in 68 degree and sunny weather in The Marina.
    SF is an international city, and it is the best place in America. The bitterness comes from those who missed the boat. Ask any homeowner about SF, and they’ll tell you they love it.

  19. Posted by Anonymous

    People who love it hear are homeowners. Homeowners have also made a ton of money and are generally wealthier. Therefore, the prices don’t bother them at all.
    For it, it all came together when in went snowboarding in Sugarbowl after it dumped 1 foot of powder and the next day I played tennis in 68 degree and sunny weather in The Marina.
    SF is an international city, and it is the best place in America. The bitterness comes from those who missed the boat. Ask any homeowner about SF, and they’ll tell you they love it.

  20. Posted by Anonymous

    Dude said it right.
    1. Weather: while not great, is moderate year-round without sweltering heat or frigid winter.
    2. Very clean and green for a big city, regardless of what the “stats” say. I’ve lived in Manhattan, and SF is much cleaner and greener.
    3. Architecture: from ultra-modern in SOMA to the Victorians of Alamo Square – the city is beautiful.
    4. Great restaurants, bars, clubs, theater, opera, symphony, museums, etc. Tough to be bored in this city.
    5. Multi-cultural and open-minded.
    6. Geography – you can go to the beach or climb a mountain without ever leaving town.
    7. Proximity to other attractions. Within driving distance you have great beaches, wine country, Tahoe, etc.
    SF is a great place to live. There is no other place like it.

  21. Posted by Dude

    Thanks. That being said, I still think real estate prices here “should be” at a slight premium to Boston, Philly, or Chicago based on economic fundamentals. Right now we’re probably at 2x the price of Boston.

  22. Posted by Anonymous

    In Hong Kong nice to luxury places go for 2000 to well over 3000 per square foot. Totally crazy.

  23. Posted by Anonymous

    In Hong Kong nice to luxury places go for 2000 to well over 3000 per square foot. Totally crazy.

  24. Posted by Invented

    “San Francisco should see about 161,000 new residents by 2035.”
    That’s nothing if we zoned properly.
    Just one example, if dreary Geary ‘Boulevard’ were re-zoned it could easily occupy half of these 161,000 and in probably 10 years. Instead of Geary’s 6 lane boulevard being flanked with lovely 6 story residences (with another 2-3 set back), we have endless blocks of 1- and 2-story wastelands….. The width and building height proportions are all off — this is one of the most interesting ethnic mixes in San Francisco teeming with potential. It underwhelms and disapppoints. Take a look — no less than 50 sites for dense housing.
    Think beautiful boulevard out to the ocean, undergrounded Muni — housing opportunities for the next generation of Richmond residents.
    Geary’s future is unlimited – but not with the ridiculous transit in place and utter lack of city vision for its future.
    Think big San Francisco.

  25. Posted by Anonymous

    I second the thoughts regarding Geary Blvd. I too have always thought it strange that Geary has been allowed to remain in its present state for this could be an amazing opportunity for appropriate density and transit. We need to have more imagination in this community and be open minded towards change for San Francisco is not ready to be “put under glass”. There are many parts of this community that need work and are just plain ugly. I always take Marina Blvd. instead of Lombard when coming back into the city because I just cannot stand the look of what should be also one of the major entry points of the urban landscape. Lombard is just plain ugly.

  26. Posted by Manufactured Karma

    I just read through this entire thread. I have also seen similar threads on this site about where SF is today and how it may grow (or not) tomorrow.
    I read a lot of talk, but see no action. If we want change, shouldn’t we start right here, right now? Who are the influencers in the city that control the issues that readers of this site feel are important? Shouldn’t we at least start the ball rolling by pinging them with the URL to this site and say “Please study this site. People who voted for you feel deeply about what may or may not happen to this city in regards to these specific topics. Beleive it or not, people do care about the growth of this city.”
    I apologize in advance for sounding naive and/or preachy, but jeez, if we don’t like something that’s going on, shouldn’t we at least try to do something about it?
    Isn’t that what SF is about?

  27. Posted by Dude

    TOTALLY agree with you guys on Geary and Lombard. I’ve said before that if I ever win the powerball and become a gazillionaire, I would personally pay to have a subway built under Geary going out to the ocean. Would do wonders for the Richmond District, I think. I also think Fulton and Lincoln could benefit from larger buildings – much like some of the best locations in Manhattan are those bordering Central Park.
    I have heard that the city has approved plans for a subway to run from Potrero to Chinatown. Has anyone else heard this?

  28. Posted by zzzzzzzz

    If I’m not mistaken, BART was originally planned to run along Geary on its way to Marin–before Marin decided not to participate in the BART system in the 60’s. Talk about a lost opportunity!

  29. Posted by Morgan

    Wow! I had not heard about BART originally going under Geary. Imagine how that would have changed the entire western side of the city. The Richmond would become a completely different type of neighborhood and much more connected with the rest of the city. I was the only person in my graduating class in Architecture School who did their thesis project on affordable housing. The yawns from fellow students, faculty and guests was not encouraging to say the least (though part of this might be explained in that I went to U.S.C.). Why is there not a greater emphasis in this country on affordable housing instead of McMansions and Luxury Towers?

  30. Posted by Anonymous

    “San Francisco’s wealth no longer comes from being an economic powerhouse, for the city barely has one in ten of the Bay Areas 500 largest companies — but by being a preferred residence of those who can choose where they live. The population of San Francisco includes the highest percentage of people living on dividends and rent income of any city in the nation”. (San Francisco Chronicle May 8 2005)
    “San Francisco has lost roughly 10% of its jobs and 4% of its population since 1999. A city that once was proud of large strong middle class, thriving ports and commerical hub now sets its value on the inventory of luxury condos, museums, exclusive restaurants and expensive hotels”
    From article “Uncool Cities” by Joel Kotkin.
    Sorry , I could not resist.
    Please do not take this post as San Francisco bashing. I am truly in love with this city. When I first visited the city as a child I could even then recognize its magnetic beauty. Changes over time have made me more than a little worried. This is a critical time in the city’s history and if new directions are not taken soon, I fear after another major earthquake we could be the next New Orleans if we do not return the economic value and housing to a large middle class and not just to a boutique weekend destination.

  31. Posted by Invented

    “I read a lot of talk, but see no action. If we want change, shouldn’t we start right here, right now? Who are the influencers in the city that control the issues that readers of this site feel are important? Shouldn’t we at least start the ball rolling by pinging them with the URL to this site and say “Please study this site”
    Amen,
    And I’m starting to wonder the point of commenting here. Altho enjoy all POVs and now can’t stand stagnant no-comment paper reporting — considering putting my energy and ltd time elsewhere (community groups/supes) unless change can begin to be affected via our words.
    Socket action rising?

  32. Posted by Greg

    San Francisco has a facsinating history of freeway development. There were big plans in the 50s to develop all sorts of routes, including a tunnel connecting the bay bridge with the golden gate bridge — all under water! Read all about what happened:
    http://www.cahighways.org/maps-sf-fwy.html

  33. Posted by Invented

    San Francisco has a fascinating highway running right though it. Today. Raised highway 80 from hospital curve to 5th street. This eyesore will eventually be undergrounded (it runs smack through all of tomorrow’s neighborhoods) but perhaps not until another 50,000 residents have snuggled up to this neighborhood-fracturing, auto-centric anomaly of transportation.
    If you like the Embarc and Octavia, you ain’t see nothing yet.
    Think big SF!

  34. Posted by Frederick

    For all of you that were not in San Francisco in 2000 here is a SF Chronicle article about the changes that were occuring on “The Embarcadero”, which has led to the re-development of SOMA, Rincon Hill and the Transbay Terminal areas.
    It was just an earthquake!!!
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/06/17/MN108484.DTL
    Frederick

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